Greenhouse Effect

Posted on diciembre 11th, 2011 in Second Paper by andogo

The greenhouse effect is when the temperature rises because the sun’s heat and light is trapped in the earth’s atmosphere.  This is like when heat is trapped in a car. On a very hot day, the car gets hotter when it is out in the parking lot.  This is because the heat and light from the sun can get into the car, by going through the windows, but it can’t get back out.  This is what the greenhouse effect does to the earth.  The heat and light can get through the atmosphere, but it can’t get out.  As a result, the temperature rises.

The sun’s heat can get into the car through the windows but is then trapped.  This makes what ever the place might be, a greenhouse, a car, a building, or the earth’s atmosphere, hotter.  This diagram shows the heat coming into a car as visible light (light you can see) and infrared light (heat).  Once the light is inside the car, it is trapped and the heat builds up, just like it does in the earth’s atmosphere.

Sometimes the temperature can change in a way that helps us.  The greenhouse effect makes the earth appropriate for people to live on.  Without it, the earth would be freezing, or on the other hand it would be burning hot.  It would be freezing at night because the sun would be down.  We would not get the sun’s heat and light to make the night somewhat warm.  During the day, especially during the summer, it would be burning because the sun would be up with no atmosphere to filter it, so people, plants, and animals would be exposed to all the light and heat.

Although the greenhouse effect makes the earth able to have people living on it, if there gets to be too many gases, the earth can get unusually warmer, and many plants, animals, and people will die.  They would die because there would be less food (plants like corn, wheat, and other vegetables and fruits).  This would happen because the plants would not be able to take the heat.  This would cause us to have less food to eat, but it would also limit the food that animals have.  With less food, like grass, for the animals that we need to survive (like cows) we would even have less food.  Gradually, people, plants, and animals would all die of hunger. (2)


Table: Gases involved in the Greenhouse Effect: past and present concentration and sources. (15)

Greenhouse Gas Concentration




Percent Change Natural and Anthropogenic Sources
Carbon Dioxide 280 ppm 376 ppm 34% Organic decay; Forest fires; Volcanoes; Burning fossil fuels; Deforestation; Land-use change
Methane 0.71 ppm 1.79 ppm 152% Wetlands; Organic decay; Termites; Natural gas & oil extraction; Biomass burning; Rice cultivation; Cattle; Refuse landfills
Nitrous Oxide 270 ppb 319 ppb 18% Forests; Grasslands; Oceans; Soils; Soil cultivation; Fertilizers; Biomass burning; Burning of fossil fuels

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